Embassy Row

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Private residences and embassies located on Massachusetts Avenue between 22nd Street and Sheridan Circle
The Japanese Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue
The Indian Embassy building with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the foreground.

Embassy Row is the informal name for the section of Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. between Scott Circle and the North side of the United States Naval Observatory, in which embassies, diplomatic missions, and other diplomatic representations are concentrated. By extension, the name encompasses nearby streets which also host diplomatic buildings.


Considered Washington's premier residential address in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Massachusetts Avenue became known for its numerous mansions housing the city's social and political elites. The segment between Scott Circle and Sheridan Circle gained the nickname "Millionaires' Row".

The Great Depression caused many to sell their homes. The expansive old estates proved well-suited for use as embassies, and also as lodges of social clubs, giving Embassy Row its present name and identity. Some of the avenue's newer buildings were purpose-designed as embassies, starting with the British Embassy, designed in 1928 by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and the Japanese Embassy, built in 1931.

On the southeastern section of the row, between Scott Circle and Dupont Circle, many mansions were replaced by larger office or apartment buildings between the 1930s and the 1970s. More recently, several prominent think tanks have clustered in that area.

From Scott Circle to Sheridan Circle[edit]

This section of Massachusetts Avenue was the one known as the "Millionaires' Row" of Washington DC in the late 19th and early 20th century.

North Side

South Side

From Sheridan Circle to Observatory Circle[edit]

North Side

South Side


The monumental setting of the avenue, especially on Dupont Circle and Sheridan Circle, and the presence of the embassies have favored the erection of many memorials and statues on the Row. Among these, the most prominent include:

Other embassies in Washington DC[edit]

In the immediate vicinity of Embassy Row, many other embassies and diplomatic residences are located within one or two blocks of Massachusetts Avenue on cross streets, particularly R, S, and 22nd Streets NW near Sheridan Circle, and in the Kalorama neighborhood north of Embassy Row. The section of New Hampshire Avenue NW north of Dupont Circle alone is home to the embassies of Argentina, Belarus, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Grenada, Jamaica, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

In the early days of Washington DC, most diplomats and ambassadors lived on or around Lafayette Square. The first purpose-designed embassy building in Washington was the embassy of the United Kingdom on 1300 Connecticut Avenue, immediately south of Embassy Row, built in 1872 by Sir Edward Thornton on John Fraser's design, and demolished in 1931. Thornton's choice of location, at a time when Dupont Circle was still almost entirely undeveloped, may be considered the origin of Embassy Row as a diplomatic neighborhood.

However, in the early 20th Century, several European legations gathered farther North-East, on a section of 16th Street near Meridian Hill Park. This area was specifically developed by Mary Foote Henderson to attract embassies, but was severely hit by the Great Depression, and Embassy Row and Kalorama then became comparatively more attractive locations for diplomats. Former embassy buildings there include those of France (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1907, now the Council for Professional Recognition); Italy (arch. Warren and Wetmore, 1925, under redevelopment as a luxury apartment building); and Spain (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1923, now the Spain-USA Foundation). The embassies of Ecuador, Lithuania, and Poland are still located in the Meridian Hill neighborhood, as well as the Cuban Interests Section and the Consulate General of Mexico. A bit further up 16th Street, the Embassy Building No. 10, built in the late 1920s, never actually served as an embassy despite being designed as one.

A high-security enclave one mile north of the Naval Observatory, on the federally-owned former grounds of the National Bureau of Standards in Cleveland Park, was developed from 1968 as the International Chancery Center. It is home to the embassies of Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Monaco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Slovakia, and the United Arab Emirates.

A number of other embassies are scattered south of Massachusetts Avenue and closer to the National Mall, notably those of Canada, Mexico, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union. Still others are located in or around Georgetown, such as those of France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The Caribbean Chancery on 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW hosts the embassies of five English-speaking Caribbean nations.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ E.J. Applewhite (1981). Washington Itself: An Informal Guide to the Capital of the United States. 
  2. ^ Emporis. "The Bay State Apartments". 
  3. ^ Emporis. "Winthrop House". 
  4. ^ James M. Goode (2003). Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings. 

External links[edit]